Gigging for a Living: The Six Best Places to Look for Freelance IT Work
The freelance market is looking up for experienced tech professionals with the right skills. Demand for tech expertise in development, AI, security, data analytics, network administration, and technical support continues to exceed supply.
The pandemic has changed the way many people and businesses work. Several organizations have moved to strategic staffing. In order to save time and cut costs, more and more companies are looking to hire qualified independent workers as and when needed.
Highly skilled specialists attract good pay because it’s more economical for businesses to compensate freelancers well for a specific duration — rather than bear the cost of full-time non-core employees.
There are several platforms on the web that connect independent tech specialists with organizations looking for tech talent. Some are for developers only, while others are open to designers, network specialists, tech support professionals, and miscellaneous IT workers.
Let's look at six of the better sites to find contract work, most of which don’t charge freelancers a commission on projects. They charge clients a fee. Upwork, Guru, Freelancer, and People-per-Hour are not on our list because applicants bid against each other on these platforms, driving rates to the bottom. These sites also charge freelancers a sizable commission.
TopTal claims to be an exclusive network of top freelance talent in software development, design, project management, product management, and finance. According to TopTal, their freelancers usually have at least between two and three years of experience in their specialty.
All applicants undergo a multistage screening process, completing which can take between two and five weeks. According to TopTal, fewer than 3 percent of applicants each month pass and join the network. Candidates who clear the first step go on to the second, and so on. Steps are as follows:
1) Language and Personality
2) In-depth Skill Review
3) Live Screening
4) Test Projects
5) Continued Excellence
Experienced tech professionals who have skills in software development or engineering; UX or UI; digital product or interaction design; digital, technical, agile or scrum master project management; or digital product management might find it worthwhile to apply. You can either sign up via TopTal itself or through LinkedIn, in which case TopTal will store your LinkedIn profile.
Freelancers can work full-time, part-time, or hourly. They determine their own rates, with guidance from TopTal if required. TopTal doesn’t take a percentage of freelancers’ earnings. Other advantages of joining TopTal include access to Fortune 500 companies and exciting start-ups, interesting projects, relatively good compensation, payment on time, and support from the TopTal community.
On TopTal, freelancers have the opportunity to work with top companies, including Motorola and Bridgestone, as well as start-ups. Read the FAQs for more details about screening, jobs, clients and payment.
Jump in: TopTal
Gun.io is a software talent network that connects companies with vetted developers. If you are a developer with suitable experience who is looking for long-term projects, then Gun.io might suit you. They vet both freelancers and companies. Their clients are usually software companies that make profits and newly-funded start-ups.
Read the FAQs before you apply. According to Gun.io, 70 percent of their developers have more than 10 years of experience. To be accepted, you need to pass their assessment of remote working capability, demonstrate your coding skills through an algorithmic test and live technical interview, and participate in a review of past professional experience and background.
Developers on the platform can set their own rates. Billing is by the hour and Gun.io pays developers on a weekly basis. You can apply on their website
Jump in: Gun.io
Fiverr is a freelance platform for a range of services. Tech professionals looking to begin freelancing can find small projects in web and app development, tech support, cybersecurity, DevOps, and cloud computing. IT newcomers, or even journeymen, can get experience, build a portfolio, learn how to deal with clients, and gain insights about how to run their own freelancing business.
To join Fiverr, you can sign up on their website with a username and password. Complete your profile, highlighting your skills and experience. Unlike TopTal and Gun.io, Fiverr doesn’t vet applicants. While freelancers don’t pay a registration fee, they only keep 80 percent of their earnings. Fiverr takes a 20 percent cut.
Fiverr is no longer a predominantly low-budget jobs platform. Gigs under $25 are still posted on Fiverr, but there are better-paying jobs too. If you have the skills and experience, you can apply for a “rising star” or “pro” designation, which means you’re more skilled than most on the platform. Pros aren’t allowed to charge less than $100 for their basic service.
Jump in: Fiverr
Catalant is a broad freelance platform for skilled independent workers across a range of occupations. The site uses an ML algorithm to enable clients to list skill and project requirements and to match the right specialists to job specifications.
Catalant would suit experienced freelancers looking for decent projects from clients who prioritize quality over money. The platform counts a number of Fortune 500 companies among its clients.
You can sign up and create a profile for free. If you find work on the platform, then Catalant will add at least 25 percent to the bill. You will not be charged a commission. Catalant claims that freelancers don’t have to wait for payment once they complete their project.
Though freelancers with skills and less experience can sign up, most clients on Catalant require professionals with deep experience.
Jump in: Catalant
Freeup is a platform for a range of freelancers, including web developers and designers, mobile app developers, tech support specialists, and UI/UX designers. Freelancers are categorized as entry-level, mid-level and expert-level. They can determine their own rates according to their skill level. Freeup charges a 15 percent commission, which is payable by the client.
Freeup puts applicants through a stringent screening process designed to evaluate skills, experience, communication, and attitude. According to Freeup, just 1 percent of applicants pass screening. To create a Freeup account, you need to submit an application. If you pass this stage, Freeup will grant you an interview.
Jump in: Freeup
Robert Half is a reputable staffing firm that helps candidates find contract or permanent positions at leading companies across the U.S. This is a good place for freelancers to look for remote or on-site contract work.
The company has been in business for decades, has numerous corporate clients and provides access to better-paying contracts. They do a good job of matching skills to job requirements.
Freelancers can either upload their resume on the Robert Half app or search open jobs and apply for suitable roles. Robert Half doesn’t charge job seekers for this service. Clients that hire through Robert Half pay a fee.
Jump in: Robert Half
Proceed with Caution
Freelance marketplaces on the Internet are of varying quality. Time spent researching the numerous options available will help you identify the right platforms and avoid wasting effort on the wrong ones.